Why do Service Stations need Changing Places?

Posted on 26 October 2020 in Changing Places

There are just shy of 200 service stations in the UK.  They are used day and night 365 days a year.  We’ve all visited one and stopping at a service station is a key part of any long car journey. So, why should a service station have a Changing Places facility?

There are over 250,000 people in the UK with disabilities meaning they require help with changing and using the toilet. Without a suitable Changing Places toilet, having a rest stop and toilet break is almost impossible when travelling.

In this article, we will cover 3 reasons why all service stations should make installing a Changing Place a top priority.

1)     People with disabilities face unacceptable travel restrictions

Everyone knows that moment on a long journey when the service station is 1 mile away and it feels like the longest mile ever. Then finally, you arrive. You can get some food, stretch your legs, and, crucially, go to the toilet.

However, imagine if when you arrived there were no toilet facilities. Or, instead of driving 1 mile, you had to drive 100.

How far could you go?

The scenario above is the reality for hundreds of thousands of disabled people.

There is one registered Changing Place on the M6 Southbound. That’s a 232 mile stretch of motorway.

These people and their families are faced with a choice — sit uncomfortably for hours, put themselves at risk using unsuitable facilities, or avoid long-distance travel altogether. This is unacceptable.

It is everyone’s responsibility to make the UK more inclusive

We’ve heard many stories from people about the situations they’ve faced when travelling.  From carers having to physically lift people out of their power wheelchair because the bathroom door isn’t wide enough to people laying on the toilet floor because there is only a baby changing mat that is clearly too small.

This is incredibly unsanitary, uncomfortable, and undignified, for both the disabled person and their carer.

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, summed up the issue:

“In a modern country, everyone should be able to travel. Despite improvements in some areas, we need our roadside services to be better for the quarter of a million people who cannot use standard accessible toilets.”

By putting yourself in someone else’s position, it becomes clear why Changing Places are important.

Adding Changing Places facilities to a service station offers confidence to disabled people and their families. They have somewhere to stop, change, and refresh safely and in a dignified way.

2)     Funding has been allocated just for service stations

You may be aware of the £30 million Changing Places fund that was announced in the 2020 budget. Exactly how this funding will be distributed is not yet confirmed.

However, there is funding currently available for Changing Places in service stations.

The Department for Transport (DfT), in partnership with Muscular Dystrophy UK, announced £1.27 million to install 37 more Changing Places at service stations across England.

We know that budgets are the deciding factor for most projects. So, getting financial support for your Changing Places installation is an opportunity not to be missed!

3)     You’ll stay ahead of the competition

We know that, as well as providing essential amenities, service stations are businesses looking to make profit.

After this round of funding by DfT, 87 of England’s 118 service stations will have Changing Places facilities.

This is excellent news for all those who need them! But it also means that any service stations without a Changing Place are at a disadvantage. As the facilities become commonplace, families will give service stations without them a wide berth.

Purple Pound

The Purple Pound is a massive part of the spending in the UK.  Businesses lose approximately £2 Billion each month by ignoring the needs of disabled people.

By making your service station more inclusive, you open doors for more people to enjoy their time and spend money at your facility.

Disadvantages of a Changing Place?

There are no disadvantages to Changing Places facilities themselves. However, service station operators sometimes express two key concerns…

Sizing — An accredited Changing Place must be 3x4m. Some service stations worry about where to house a facility that size. In these cases, modular Changing Places can be built outside of the building.


This is an ideal solution for service stations who already have abundant outdoor space for parking and eating areas.

Cost — If you were previously concerned about cost, now is the time to invest! As we discussed above, funding has been dedicated to the provision of Changing Places in service stations.

Here is a list of the service stations that secured funding in 2019:

Moto rugby M6 Warwickshire
Knutsford Services NB M6 Cheshire
Ferrybridge Services M62 West Yorkshire
Reading EB M4 Berkshire
Heston WB M4 Greater London
Hilton Park SB M6 Staffordshire
Strensham North M5 Worcestershire
Tibshelf South M1 Derbyshire
Tibshelf North M1 Derbyshire
Taunton Deane North M5 Somerset
Strensham South M5 Worcestershire
Sedgemoor M5 Somerset
Rownhams South M27 Hampshire
Northampton South M1 Northamptonshire
Northampton North M1 Northamptonshire
Maidstone M20 Kent
Durham A1(M) County Durham
Clacket Lane West M25 Surrey
Chester MSA M56 Cheshire
Gloucester NB M5 Gloucestershire
Tebay SB M6 Cumbria

You could be next!

Get in touch with any queries about funding or installation! We can help you visualize your Changing Places facility before it is even built.



As you can see, Changing Places in service stations are beneficial for all.  A Changing Place could be the one reason why a family choose to go or not go somewhere.

Being inclusive and investing in these facilities shows you care, boosts business, and opens up the road to everyone who wants to use it.

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